Poor Lord Baltimore. The guy has it rough. He has been through war, lost a leg and nearly died. Saw the horrors that man was capable of and then saw horrors that could not have been real. But they were. By wounding a vampire, unknowingly, he started a war with the creature that took his family from him. It took all of his loved ones in fact and so, without a family or a reason to go on, he found a new one. He will kill the vampire Haigus and all of his kind, as well as any other monstrosity he comes across. And when all is said and done, poor, pitiful Lord Baltimore can finally rest.
Lord Baltimore really is a tragic figure and yet he cuts a fine leading man in this series. He is driven and almost single-minded to a fault as it sometimes works against him. But that dedication to his cause also serves him well with a stamina that keeps him going when others would surely have quit long beforehand. You see it when he fights the vampires and the sub-mariners and you see it when he kills his very own family after Haigas has turned them all. Tragic he may be, but he is strong and principled and will let no one and nothing deter his course.
Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden chronicle Baltimore’s travels as he aims to clean the scourge of the undead and more from the land. While he might be a tragic figure, he is also an interesting one. He says he is already dead and things to that effect, but it seems like at this point, as he has been chasing Haigus for some time now, he is saying it to merely convince himself. Meeting Vanessa has made him realize, even if just a little bit, that life goes on and there are things to live for.
The book has a nice balance between the drama and action and all of it drawn by series artist, Ben Stenbeck. At first glance he seems very Mignola-esque, which seems to be the tone that Mignola aims for when hiring artists for his books, and consistency is a good thing oftentimes, but upon closer inspection, he has his own style and it looks great. One of the most striking scenes was with Baltimore and Vanessa on the ocean during the storm when the giant jellyfish appeared in the sky. It is a simplistic picture for sure, but surrealistic and a little awe-inspiring as well.
The battle with the sub-mariners near the end of the book was fantastic and the designs of the suits were amazing. They looked like old-fashioned robots, but obviously deadlier as they were piloted by the undead. There are some sketches of the creatures in the back of the trade paperback which show a bit of the progression that went into the final design for them. This was probably, one of the best scenes in the whole book with not only the sub-mariners, but the whole beach/graveyard filled with old, rusting subs, rotted ships and the strange pink fungus everywhere. A really memorable scene in a book filled with many of the kind.
The Plague Ships was a fun read, a little stilted in the beginning though it soon found its pace, and a great start to the comic adventures of Lord Baltimore. It was suspenseful, dramatic and had more than enough action to keep one’s interest and if it continues into further volumes, they will more than definitely be a must-read.
4 out of 5